by: Dave Huddleston Updated:
ATLANTA - A new exclusive Channel 2 Action News poll shows more Georgia voters are likely to vote in support of a controversial charter school amendment than against it.
The ballot question is phrased, “Shall the constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”
According to the latest Landmark Rosetta Stone poll of likely voters, 47 percent of Georgians say they will vote for the charter school amendment, while 37 percent will vote no. The remaining 16 percent are undecided.
Georgia lawmakers approved the amendment this year after the state Supreme Court found that a legislatively created commission was unconstitutional because it approved new charter schools over the objection of local school boards. Charter schools receive public funding but are freed from regulations like class size and teacher pay schedules in exchange for promises of improved student performance.
On Thursday, 500 random likely voters were polled at 8 p.m. The margin of error for the poll is 4.3 percent.
Dozens of people lined up outside the Buckhead library Friday afternoon to vote. Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston spoke to Kelly Bell, who said she supports the amendment.
“I’m for school. I'm for education and school improvement," she said.
John Garst, president of Rosetta Stone Communications said the numbers look good for proponents, but it is not a slam dunk because they haven't crossed the 50 percent threshold.
"I would be concerned over there if I were running that campaign, but they do have a big lead, but they should be able to eke out 3 more points from the undecided," he said.
Supporters believe the plan would create more educational opportunities for students, but opponents say it would erode local control and divert money from existing public schools.
Jane Langley from Vote Smart Georgia, a group opposed to amendment, said, "We have said repeatedly the ballot language is deceptive and misleading. This is a classic case of buyer beware."
A preface on the ballot says the resolution “provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.”
A voter at the Buckhead Library who only identified himself as Donald said, "I did think it was worded in a confusing way."
Langley added, "I hope voters will be informed before they permanently change the state constitution to duplicate charter schools that are in place."
The only group that appears to be opposed to the amendment are those over 65 years old, according to Garst.
“Older voters, they see something on their ballot that has anything to do with education, and they immediately think, 'This is going to cost me money,'” he said.